Friday, August 6, 2010

"In the name of Christ, in the name of God"?

Since I arrived at a fairly decisive judgment with regards to Anne Rice's very public departure from the Church, it is only fair that I draw attention to a lengthy telephone interview she did with the Los Angeles Times recently about this very subject.

Not only does this interview not alter my previous take, it strengthens it. My point is not to be berate Rice, or even to denigrate what is for her a serious a matter about which is has rendered her own very scathing and decisive judgment, but to deal, even if only a little, with her position precisely because this kind of thinking is quite pervasive, even within the Church. It is here that then-Cardinal Ratzinger spoke so eloquently, especially in his book-length interviews, beginning with the Ratzinger Report and culminating with God and the World. I am grateful that as Pontiff he has continued to address this mentality in such an engaging and even at times provocative way, as he did in Regensburg and the address he was unable to give in person at Rome's La Sapienza University.

Martin Luther nailing his 95 theses on the church door in Wittenberg

In reading this interview, something I wrote previously becomes crystal clear, namely that "it is quite a non-Catholic attitude to make a hard and fast distinction between Christ and His bride, His Body, the Church. Separating yourself from it is to separate yourself from Him." Her explanations shows that her understanding of revelation is not a Catholic understanding, which insists that Jesus Christ is the fullness of divine revelation and that revelation has two distinct, yet not wholly separate, modes of transmission: tradition and Scripture. In the Catholic view, Scripture itself is the product of tradition.

Therefore, it strikes me as utterly incoherent to lambaste the Catholic Church for being, well, Catholic in such a Catholic way. Let's face it, there is nothing new under the sun. Anne Rice has done nothing more than adamantly declare herself a Protestant, even one of the Lutheran variety, which is more "Catholic" than the reformed Protestant position, either Calvinistic or Zwinglian. It's interesting, nonetheless, that she balks at affiliating with the United Church of Christ, an ecclesial group that meets all of her demands and that has publicly invited her to join them. Who knows, perhaps she thinks she can hold the truth hostage and issue demands that will be met? This takes us back to the question of conversion.

A deep diaconal bow to our intrepid Catholic newsman, Deacon Greg Kandra, for bringing Rice's interview to my attention.

As another case-in-point of this mentality, I am working on something I hope to post tomorrow about the all-too-predictable, but no less wrong-headed, overreactions to the recent announcement of the Holy Father's motu dealing delicta graviora, or grave, abuses of the sacraments, even by some quite faithful commentators, who viewed it as a P.R. error.


  1. Thank you for your always well-put posts on so many topics. You sum the Rice situation well and reference it most effectively with writings of the Holy Father, remarks about Luther and more.

    I look forward to your next post; I am among those who think that PR error or not, that there were issues with the Motu. As you know, I will always read and listen and try to always be open to where God is inviting me.

  2. I was following Anne Rice's updates with great interest before this particular one hit the "headlines", such as they are.

    I was struck by the way her questions increasingly expressed a kind of desperation, or exasperation, in relation to the Church's doctrines.

    I don't feel she has taken up a position so much as given full vent to the exasperation that was there already, and is actually felt by most Christians in our times.

    In a way I'm glad that she did because it's a more honest position - inability to accept at face value a tradition which has become disjointed from contemporary experience - if I didn't have the history and education that I do have, I would feel the same as she does, Catholic or not.

    It's a question of freedom now whether she (and we) open ourselves to the possibility that the Spirit may reinterpret the tradition to us and through us - or if we censor what we met.



Heeding the most important call of all

Readings: Amos 7:12-15; Ps 8:9-14; Eph 1:3-14; Mark 6:7-13 Like Amos in our first reading, "the Twelve," as the inspired author...